Editor’s note: Welcome to the first installment of Experiences in Advocacy, a special series authored by ACR members detailing personal experiences in advocacy.
We need rheumatologists to join the American Medical Association (AMA). Here’s why, and how to do it.
Having participated in your delegation for over a decade, I have seen major improvements in focus, prioritization of issues, transparency, collaboration and diversity in the AMA, and we need your help now to keep rheumatology’s seat at the table. You can help by renewing your membership in or joining the AMA. Call the AMA at 800-262-3211, and specify that you want to join or renew for 2015. If you haven’t been an AMA member for more than a year, you can even get a half-dues discount.
Our participation in the House of Delegates (HOD) gives us a seat at the table for the Relative Value Scale Update Committee (RUC) and other vital decision-making and informational aspects of organized medicine. Despite being a relatively small subspecialty, the ACR is able to make things happen at the AMA HOD, the AMA’s policymaking meeting, through our partnerships and nimble approach to advancing issues important to rheumatologists, their practices and patients.
The most recent AMA HOD meeting was held this summer in Chicago. Your AMA membership translates into results for you—because rheumatologists have a seat at the table. Some of the major topics discussed and actions taken are:
Great work was done by my colleagues Colin Edgerton, MD (alternate delegate), Cristina Arriens, MD (Young Physician Delegate), and Erin Mary Bauer, MD, who for the first time brought an ACR voice to the Resident and Fellows Section of the AMA.
ICD-10: The HOD adopted policy that the AMA would ask CMS and other payers for a safe harbor “grace period” for the ICD‑10 transition, based on existing policy the ACR and partners put in at previous meetings. Additionally, the AMA would aggressively promote this implementation compromise to Congress and CMS (this was new, inserted after testimony and the amendment offered by the ACR and others).
As you know, mitigating the burdens and risks of ICD-10 implementation has been a major focus of the ACR’s advocacy efforts, specifically with regard to legislation introduced by Rep. Diane Black (R-TN-06), H.R. 2247. The House moved this bill up the agenda in order to start the updated advocacy campaign with letters to Congress and continued efforts with CMS. This led to the joint announcement by the AMA and CMS in early July of additional flexibility in the claims auditing and quality reporting process as the medical community gains experience using the new ICD‑10 code set, which was based in large part on the legislation the ACR supported.